Dallas City Council’s Reverchon Park Deal Sets Dangerous Precedent

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When the Dallas City Council passed District 14 council member David Blewett’s deal to redevelop a significant part of Reverchon Park, they set a dangerous precedent for the city.

The decision, which was a second run at getting a deal done with a private LLC, tells anyone with business before the council that failures can be undone. It tells developers that they can see who voted against their project, lobby the hell out of them, and perhaps get a second shot. It tells them failure doesn’t necessarily mean you have to start over.

Shades of Lincoln Katy Trail

On December 4, 2018, I wrote about how the contentious Lincoln Katy Trail project would be returning to the City Plan Commission (after failing 7-5) for a vote to reconsider. This happened when newbie commissioner Christopher Lewis from District 8 had been convinced by former council member Angela Hunt, then representing Lincoln, to ask for the reconsideration.

When Lincoln came back for the vote to be reconsidered, plan commissioners voted 12-1 (Lewis) against letting it back in. At the time, I noted one other instance when the council had faced a reconsideration vote (when, in 2013, fracking in the Trinity was on the docket – of all things). Council, including then council member Hunt, said no to a reconsideration.

It’s called integrity when both sides agree that a vote stands. To do otherwise sets a dangerous precedent.

With the reconsideration of Reverchon and ultimate same-night wham-bam passage, the city announced that any vote might not stand. Imagine if this “two bites of the apple” con were allowed in criminal cases where defendants could simply lobby the jury to get the verdict changed.

If there’s reason to rehear either a municipal or criminal case from scratch, that’s called a retrial or a resubmission.

Negating Roles of Commissions and Boards

There’s another, specific reason this mustn’t happen with the city council. It negates any denials by departments before them. In a zoning case, it negates plan commission’s role. I would say that in the case of Reverchon, Blewett’s reconsideration overstepped on the Parks board, but they’re so hot to get the deal done, I doubt any change would have concerned them.  

This is more than an esoteric argument. Lincoln Katy Trail is staging its comeback and making the rounds in city hall with the same awful project that failed over a year ago. Let’s recall, it ultimately failed Oak Lawn Committee, failed plan commission, failed reconsideration by plan commission and failed at city council.

Why now?  A new city council and associated plan commissioners. Former District 14 council member and Lincoln roadblock Philip Kingston has been replaced by Blewett. And the statute barring council members acting on cases involving campaign contributors has expired. Lincoln executives and their wives donated at least $4,000 to Blewett’s campaign

Blewett certainly is starting his first term with a bang while sitting on a city council where the second time around is as good as any.


Remember:  High-rises, HOAs, and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email sharewithjon@candysdirt.com. Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.  

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Jon Anderson

Jon Anderson is CandysDirt.com's condo/HOA and developer columnist, but also covers second home trends on SecondShelters.com. An award-winning columnist, Jon has earned silver and bronze awards for his columns from the National Association of Real Estate Editors in both 2016, 2017 and 2018. When he isn't in Hawaii, Jon enjoys life in the sky in Dallas.

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Comments

  1. JD says

    Reconsideration votes happen all the time. When any council person instructs city staff to bring back better research or deals on a subject and they do, its perfectly reasonable as well as legal to vote on a reconsideration. In fact, every counciperson voted ‘FOR’ to open the Reverchon reconsideration motion. This article reads more of a sore loser rant. If there was a “Reconsideration vote” on Phillip Kingston as a councilman though, he’d lose again.

  2. Willie says

    Egad, the sky is falling. Reconsideration is fine as long as new info is brought forward. Obviously anybody and anything can get on the airwaves. This piece is laughable.

  3. mmJon Anderson says

    Former District 14 Plan Commissioner Paul Ridley on the Lincoln Katy Trail reconsideration vote: “A reconsideration motion is an extraordinary procedure before this body, I can count on a single hand the number of times we’ve entertained such a motion in the past seven years, and those have generally been cases where there was a procedural irregularity, failure to notify, or some other procedural glitch that caused us to need to reconsider a decision. Never before in my memory have we reconsidered a final decision of this body solely on the basis the applicant was dissatisfied with the decision. If we were to do so, accepting that as a standard by which to vote a motion to reconsider then every controversial vote will be reconsidered and we will be mired in reconsiderations until the wee small hours of our hearing time and it will not a productive use of our time.
    .
    I think a decision of this body once it’s made after due discussion and testimony should be the final decision pf this body, absent extraordinary circumstances.”

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    Former Plan Commission Chair Gloria Tarpley added: “I’m not particularly happy with the way the decision came out but I think our votes matter. And I do think Commissioner Ridley makes an excellent point this would be the veritable nose of the camel under the tent. If you start to backtrack without a good sound basis, then we jeopardize every single decision we make.”

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